Dante's Peak 2
Part 12

Harry had paced himself to make sure that Graham would be able to keep up with him. And he had, to Harry's chagrin. He had even managed to give Harry a run for his money a couple of times.
As they raced the last few yards back around the lake, Harry saw Graham stop suddenly, his gaze on something at the end of the drive. As Harry neared, he teased, "Tired, Graham?" and then he saw what had gotten the boy's attention. Brian Wando's motorcycle. "Get to the house, Graham," Harry said in a tone that allowed no arguement.
Graham nodded and cut across the yard toward the house, aware that Harry was right beside him, keeping between him and the man on the motorcycle. He wasn't going to call him dad anymore. Harry was his dad now, not the man who sat there, watching. The man took off his helmet. "Graham!"
"Go on, Graham," Harry said.
"I just want to talk to you -" Brian called out.
Graham stopped, and Harry did the same. "Graham-"
The boy shook his head and turned around to look at his father. "I don't want to talk to you, okay? Just leave us alone!" he yelled, then turned, and with a sudden burst of speed, ran toward the house where his mother was waiting.
Harry saw Brian's eyes narrow in anger, saw the way his hand twisted the grip on the motorcycle. "I'm not going anywhere, Dalton. Not until I talk to my kids."
"You heard Graham. He doesn't want to talk to you. If you don't leave, I'll call the police-"
"It's a public road," Brian pointed out. "I'm not on your property. And my bike's broke down -"
"I'd be glad to call a tow truck for you," Harry offered.
Brian shook his head. "Nah. It just needs to cool down. Overheats and won't run sometimes."
Harry spoke softly, but his voice carried. "Stay away from Rachel and the children, Brian. They're my responsibility now, and I'll do whatever it takes to keep them safe."
"I'm sure you will, Dalton."
Harry turned and went toward the house, then led Rachel and Graham inside. "How long has he been out there?" Harry asked Rachel.
"Just a few minutes," she told him.
"What's wrong, Mom? I heard Graham yelling," Lauren said as she came downstairs.
"Nothing, baby," Rachel assured her daughter, giving her a hug. "Come away from the window, Graham," she said. "Let's go into the kitchen and I'll fix breakfast, okay? How about some pancakes?"
As they were cleaning up the kitchen, Harry looked out the window above the sink. He was still out there, and Harry was becoming angry. "This is crazy. He's making us a prisoner in our own home." He picked up the telephone.
"What are you doing?" Rachel asked.
"Calling the police," he told her.
Lauren stood on tiptoe to look outside. "Who's that?" she asked, then saw the looks on the three other faces. "It's HIM, isn't it?" she asked, suddenly looking frightened again.
Harry hung up the phone and sat down before pulling her into his lap. "He's not going to hurt you, Lauren. Now, I want you and your brother to go upstairs to your rooms for a little while. I have to find some way to get him to leave us alone."
"Are you going to have him arrested?" she asked.
"Would it upset you if I did?" Harry countered.
"No. As long as he leaves, I don't care why he leaves."
Harry hugged her. "Go on upstairs." He looked at Graham. "Go with her, Graham." He went to the door and watched them climb the stairs, then picked up the telephone in the living room, dialing the number for the Sheriff's office.
Fifteen minutes later, he hung up. "Well?" Rachel asked. "What did they say?"
"They're going to send a car out to see if he'll leave. He's right. It's a public road, and he's got a right to be there. As long as he doesn't step onto this property, we can't do anything about it. Unless he breaks some law -"
"Harrassment isn't against the law? Isn't there anything -"
Harry went out onto the porch and sat down, and Rachel joined him there as a county sheriff's car drove slowly down the road. When Brian saw the car, he put on his helmet and started his motorcycle, turning it toward town. The car turned into the drive and stopped.
Sheriff Miller got out as Harry and Rachel came down the steps. "Dr. Dalton. Mrs. Dalton. I"m Sheriff Miller. I happened to be in the office when your call came in."
"Sheriff. Thank you. I don't know how long he would have stayed there if you hadn't come out."
"I'll make sure one of my deputies patrols out here often. Maybe it will deter him from staying around. And we'll keep an eye on him in town. I've seen the bike at the motel, guess he's staying there."
"We appreciate any help, Sheriff," Rachel told him. "I know there's nothing you can do -"
"Beyond just watching him, no. If we do anything more, he can say we're harrassing HIM."
"I have to go into Portland tomorrow to the university, Sheriff, and I don't like the idea of Rachel and children being out here alone- I've reason to believe that Brian Wando might resort to violence if provoked-"
"We'll keep an eye on things, Dr. Dalton," Miller assured him. "You might talk to the judge about a restraining order."
"I'm going to call my attorney about it as soon as you leave," Harry told him.
"The local judge is Dan Howell," he told them, then touched his hat. "I'll be going. And like I said, I'll have someone drive by here pretty regular." He got back into his car and turned toward town.
Harry put his arm around Rachel. "Let's go call Donna, shall we?"
It became almost like a game to Brian. Park the bike on the other side of the road and watch the house, then, when he saw a police car, start his bike and return to town. He'd get a cup of coffee or a beer, then go back out to the road until the next patrol, and then start the game all over. He knew he was making them nervous. That was good. Nervous people made mistakes. And all it would take was one mistake for him to to get those kids.
One mistake.
But he he'd forgotten how quickly things sometimes got done in small towns, where the judge was able to handle things immediately. Harry was leaving the house the next morning when he saw Brian pull his motocycle to a stop before the house again, then get off of it and pretend to check something on the engine. Harry was about to go back inside and call the Sheriff when Miller's car appeared, cutting Brian off before he could ride away.
"Morning, Sheriff," Brian said, smiling, removing his helmet. "Gonna be a beautiful day, isn't it?"
"For some people," Miller said. "Are you Brian Wando?"
"You know I am."
Miller held out a peice of paper. "This is for you."
"What is it?" Brian asked, not taking the paper.
"Notice that Dr. and Mrs. Dalton have filed a peace bond to keep you away from their property. If you come within 100 feet of their property line or them, or their children, you'll be subject to arrest."
"THEIR children? Those kids aren't Dalton's, Sheriff. I'm their father -"
Sheriff Miller put the notice inside of Brian's helmet. "You've been served, Mr. Wando. I think you might want to consider leaveing Cuttersville for someplace else."
Brian had no choice but to take the paper to put on his helmet. "You can tell your friend Dalton that this isn't over, Sheriff. I'll get my kids. One way or the other."
"I wouldn't make any threats, Mr. Wando," Sheriff Miller suggested.
"That's not a threat. It's a fact." He glanced toward where Harry was standing, then started his motorcycle and headed toward town.
Sheriff Miller crossed to Harry. "I'll keep the patrols going just in case he didn't get the message, Dr. Dalton."
"Thank you. I appreciate your being so helpful."
"I had four kids of my own, Dr. Dalton. One was a step child. And if her father had ever tried to do what Brian Wando is doing, I'd have nailed him to the wall. You go on to work, and don't worry."
"That's easier said than done, Sheriff," Harry said. "But I'll try." He had a feeling that he was going to be spending most of the day on the telephone. He put his briefcase into the truck, then went back into the house to tell Rachel what had happened.
When telephone rang ten minutes after he arrived in his office, Harry grabbed it quickly, thinking it might be Rachel. But it was Terry's voice on the line. "Well, Harry? Did he show up?" he asked, not wasting any time.
"He did, Terry. I want to thank you for calling me the other day. I expected you to call sooner-"
"Tell you the truth, Harry, I crashed when I got home. You know what the beds in that little trailer are like. Can't sleep in them at all. Is everything all right?"
"We still don't know. Brian says he wants the kids back, but we've found out that he's made some sort of agreement with a television station to get them in for an interview - "
"Sounds like a real nice guy there."
"You have gift for understatement, Terry." He fought the urge to ask about Terry's statement that Dante's Peak wasn't dormant, and he lost. "What did you and Nancy find up there?"
Terry hesitated before answering. "Levels are all still pretty high. There's been some minor seismic activity - the largest we saw was only 2.2. There's no sign of a lava eruption -"
"You don't think she could go off again? Terry, two eruptions in such a short span of time is almost unheard of. It doesn't happen."
"After the way she fooled us before, I'm not counting that lady out until the readings drop comepletely," Terry told him. "Nancy and I set up equipment to monitor the mountain from here. Too bad you won't go back up there, Harry. I think you'd be able to tell what she's up to if you did."
"I can't, Terry," Harry told him, feeling his palms start to sweat at the very thought of returning to that volcano. "I need to call Rachel, make sure she and the kids are okay. Tell everyone I said hello, will you?"
"Sure. And you give Rachel and the kids my best."
Harry hung up, then immediately dialed the number for home. It took a moment for the line to be answered, and Harry was on the verge of calling the Sheriff when
Rachel answered. "Hello?"
"Rachel. What took you so long?"
"The kids and I were outside enjoying the weather," she explained. "I"m sorry, Harry."
"Then there's been no sign of him?"
"Nothing. Maybe he's given up."
"I doubt it. I know I wouldn't. Just keep a watch, okay?"
"I am. You sound upset."
"Terry called," he told her. "We'll discuss it later. My schedule's clear for the afternoon, and so I'll be home early."
"You don't have to -"
"I want to. I can tell already that I'm not going to get very much done around here today."
"I'll be expecting you, then. I love you."
"And I love you." He looked up at Leo Morgan tapped on his door, a textbook in his hand. "Good-bye."
Rachel picked up the telephone on the second ring. "Hello?"

"Hello, Rachel."
Her blood went cold at the sound of that voice. "Brian," she said quietly, hoping the kids were occupied enough by the television to not hear her. "What are you doing -"
"The paper didn't say anything about telephone calls," he pointed out. "Just that I wasn't to go near you or my kids."
"No CONTACT, Brian," Rachel pointed out. "I think you need to read it again."
"I don't need to. Because it won't make any difference. You know why, Rachel? Because your wonderful Harry Dalton won't want to deprive me of my kids anymore than he would want to be deprived of that baby that you're carrying." Rachel's fingers tightened on the telephone as Brian laughed softly. "I know, Rachel.
How long did it take you to start sleeping with him, Rachel? A day? Two?"
"That's none of your business, Brian," she hissed into the receiver. "You and I are divorced, remember? Because that's what YOU wanted. Don't you start threatening me or the baby I'm carrying now. I should have filed charges on you. Like Jane wanted me to do."
"Oh, but you couldn't do that. Wouldn't look good for someone with aspirations of running for city council and eventually mayor for the town to find out that she can't control her own household, would it?"
"Leave us alone, Brian. And if you call again, I'll call the police." She hung up, shaking. Sitting down, she dialed the number for Harry's office.
"I think that will do what we need," Harry was telling Leo. "And if you're willing to lead the tour of the St. Helens site -"
"Who's going to do the Dante's Peak tour?" Leo asked, his grey eyes on Harry. "You?"
"No," Harry said quickly. "I'm going to ask a friend from the USGS if he's willing to do it. You remember Terry Furlong, I believe?"
"Sure, I remember old Terry. Started as an intern the year I quit. Think he'll do it?"
"Probably." The telephone rang, and Harry gave Leo an apologetic look as he answered. "Harry Dalton."
"Harry, it's Rachel."
He heard the fear and panic in her voice immediately, and his hand tightened its grip. "What's wrong? Is he back again?" He saw Leo's concerned expression.
"He called. I don't know how he got the number, Harry, -"
"Turn on the answering machine and let it screen the calls," Harry told her.
"He knows about the baby, too, Harry."
"Dear God. It's okay. I'll take care of the telephone problem. You just do as I said, and don't answer the telephone if it's him."
"I won't. How soon are you going to be home?" she asked.
"Soon," he assured her. After he hung up, he turned to Leo. "I think I need to stop by Donna's office before I go home," he said.
"We can finish this later," Leo told him. "Why don't you take off now? I'll call Donna and let her know you're on your way."
"Thanks, Leo."

After talking to Donna Morgan, Harry made another stop before heading back toward Cuttersville. As he drove through town, he passed the RiverCrest Motel and noticed that Brian Wando's motorcycle was parked there. On impulse, he turned his truck into the parking area, bringing it to a halt beside the machine. The bike was parked before Room 6, and Harry found himself knocking on the door of that room. There was no answer, and Harry was turning to go back to his truck when he heard Brian's voice.
"You looking for me, Dr. Dalton?"
He turned to see Brian coming toward him. "As a matter of fact, I was. Leave my family alone, Brian. The children don't want to see you again - and Rachel -"
"She certainly didn't waste much time getting pregnant again Barely married what? A month?"
"Closer to two," Harry informed him. "And that child is something we BOTH wanted. Unlike you, I want children. An entire housefull of them, if I'm lucky."
"You'll probably get it with Rachel," Brian commented, leaning against his bike.
"Don't call, don't go anywhere near that house," Harry told him. "If you do anything to hurt Rachel or those children -"
"I don't want to hurt the kids, Dalton. They are mine, after all."
"Is that why you caused Rachel to lose the last child she became pregnant with?"
"That was an accident. As usual, she hadn't discussed having a baby with me before hand. I thought she understood how I felt, that I didn't want to be tied down -"
"Yet now, you expect her to simply hand Graham and Lauren over to you -"
"I've changed," Brian insisted.
Harry's fist clenched and unclenched as he looked into that smirking face. He wouldn't resolve anything by hitting Brian. In all probability, such an action would only make matters worse. He refused to resort to physical violence, to bring himself to Brian Wando's level. Finally, he turned to open the door of his truck. "Stay away from my family, Brian. I won't warn you again."
Brian sat there on his motorcycle, watching as the truck turned toward the mountain road, and started to laugh, ignoring the curious looks of the people who passed by.
Rachel, Lauren, and Graham met Harry's truck as he turned off the engine, greeting him effusively as he got out. He handed something to Rachel as he led Lauren toward the house. "What's this?" Rachel asked, pulling the package out of the sack.
"A cell phone," he told her. "I'm the only one who knows the number. If it rings, you'll know it's me."
She smiled at him, relieved by his understanding of how frightened she had been by Brian's telephone call. "Thank you."
Harry put his other arm around her. "What's for dinner?" he asked. Graham and Lauren remained in the living room, watching television, while Harry and Rachel continued into the kitchen.
"I spoke to Donna again. She's trying to expedite the adoption."
"Does she have any idea of how much longer it will take?" Rachel asked, picking up a mixing bowl. The sound of the telephone ringing sent the bowl crashing to the floor as she jumped nervously.
"Rachel," Harry said, rushing over to pull her into his arms, holding her tightly as she stood there, shaking. Graham came to the door, along with a frightened Lauren.
"It's all right, love. It's all right." He looked at the children, then held out his arm in an invitaion for them to join him and their mother.
At last Graham spoke. "I heard the answering machine, Mom. Dr. Fox called to see how things are going. She said you should call her back."
Rachel gave him a teary-eyed smile. "Thank you, Graham." She started to kneel to clean up the remnants of the bowl and its contents, but Harry stopped her.
"I'll do that.. You go and call Jane."
"We'll help you, Daddy," Lauren offered, looking at Graham, who nodded, going to get the broom and dustpan.
Rachel felt much better after chatting with her old friend, and when she returned to the kitchen, she did so carefully, uncertain of what she would find. She needn't have worried. There was no sign of the broken bowl or its contents, and Harry, Lauren, and Graham were standing near the sink, talking softly. "Just leave it to me, okay?" Harry was saying.
"Leave what to you?" Rachel asked, smiling as he turned around quickly.
Harry glanced at the kids. "Go on and get ready."
"Okay, Dad," Graham said, grinning. "Come on, Lauren."
"Get ready for what?" Rachel asked as they left the room.
"What did Jane have to say?" Harry asked instead of answering her question, coming over to put his arms around her.
"She just wanted to know what the latest news was." She tried to pull away. "I have to finish dinner," she told him.
"Not tonight. We're going into town to get something to eat."
He looked into her eyes. "Rachel, you've had a very trying day, and I would prefer that we get out of the house for a little while."
"But, if we go into town, Brian-"
"He can't do anything in a restaurant filled with people," Harry reminded her gently. "I won't let him turn us into hermits, Rachel. We have just as much right to go
into town as he does. More, really, since this is our home. Go get ready, okay?"
She sighed, looking into those blue eyes. "All right, Harry."
He kissed her lips lightly. "Go on."
Brian was sitting in a dark corner of the steakhouse, nursing a beer as he sat over a plate of untouched food. His eyes narrowed as he saw the four people who entered the building. He smiled, glad he'd walked over instead of riding his bike. They wouldn't have come in if they'd seen it in the parking lot. His fingers tightened on the handle of the glass mug as Harry Dalton bent down to talk to Lauren, his hand on her shoulder. She smiled up at him, her eyes filled with love and admiration. Even from here, across the width of the dining room, it was visible. And the look on Graham's face as he asked something was the same. Graham had looked at HIM that way, once, years ago. Brian raised his hand to get the waitress' attention as Dalton's blue gaze locked with his. He needed another beer.
Rachel caught sight of Jane Fox's blonde hair as she was seated. "Jane's here, Harry," she said.
Harry's attention was elsewhere, but when she would have turned to see what had put that serious expression on his face, he reached out to take her hand. "Where is she?"
"Over there. She's with Hank Jameson."
He turned in his chair slightly to see the doctor and the mayor talking. "She seems to be enjoying herself."
"I'm glad. She's put so much time into raising Lacey and her work that she hasn't had time for herself." She noticed his glance behind her again, and went still. Brian was here. That was the only thing that could make Harry's eye harden to blue ice. "Maybe we should go on into Portland," she suggested.
He held her hand, shaking his head. "No. I won't be run off by him anymore, Rachel," he said softly. "Let's just enjoy the evening, okay?" he said, picking up his menu.
Graham heard the conversation and turned in his chair as he looked around. Sure enough he found his father sitting in the corner, taking a beer from the waitress.
"Graham, turn around," Harry said, meeting his eyes when he did. "Have you decided what you're going to have?"
He nodded. "A steak," he said, grinning at his mother's reaction to his annoucement.
To be Continued...

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